A Word of Grace – Dec 3, 2012

Monday Grace

Dear Friends,

This message is based on a journal entry I made on a visit to New Mexico in November of 2011.

. . .

The dry cottonwood duff crunches beneath my feet as I walk to the bank of the upper Rio Grande in the late autumn twilight. An icy north wind hints of the headwaters in the mountains 150 miles away. Snow tonight?

I came 800 miles to this place and said my piece. The gathered flesh was titillated by stories of human conflict over religious freedom in the midst of changing public policies and mores. Relativism and therapeutic moral deism have so pervaded the thinking of educated people of faith that consecration and zeal have faded to extinction and a vague sad empathy has taken their places. I can explain the issues to them, but I can’t understand the consequences for them. Equivocal complacency continued to reign in the hearts and minds of my listeners when I finished.

Overhead, the approaching winter rattles the skeletal bones of the trees. Between gusts, stillness settles like a coverlet fringed by the delicate whisper of downstream riffles. The birds have gone, taking their songs with them.

It is a popular conceit to ask, “There are so many competing voices, how do I choose one to follow?” The fatal assumption of the question is that one must choose between those insistent voices. “You will be like God, knowing good and evil” is the ultimate marketing ploy, but it is a death-dealing lie. It enervates those who heed it with the toxic build-up of moral equivalency.

True choice commands us, it does not excuse us. “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:16-17).

The breeze stirs the surface of the pool before me with whitecaps. They vanish as quickly as they come. The river flows on south and east from here. It will dry up completely before it reaches the sea exhausted by over-pumping for domestic and agricultural use. Its sickly renewal will come later from a tributary pouring in across the border polluted with untreated sewage and industrial waste.

Being the only waterway of significance in a vast desert bears a high price. The flow is so insipid when it reaches the Gulf of Mexico that it doesn’t even carve out a bay.

I have never stood beside the Rio Grande before today. It was only a ribbon of green spooling out across a tan desert as seen from the window of an airliner. My people crossed the continent far to the north of here. Yet, this river is part of my story.

I was born and have always lived on land seized in a war that began over this river. My great, great grandfather fought battles in that same war far to the west of here. Now the river forms an uneasy, ragged border between the nations who fought that war. The frequent transgression of that border forms one of the seething political issues of the day. The  Messianic inquiry of the Psalmist is ever timely —

Why do the nations conspire,

  and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves,

  and the rulers take counsel


  against the Lord and his anointed saying

“Let us burst their bonds asunder,

  and cast their cords from us”

        Ps 2:1-3

The Psalmist’s question observes the visceral struggle of creature versus Creator; the rebellion of the children against their Father. Far from its source, the Rio Grande is used and exploited without refreshment. Its flow is largely man-made at the end, sick and sickening. We are on our own in a similar condition when pride and coercion sever our vital connection to grace.

There is no political solution. The voices that call out to us offer no more than degrees of the conditional and the finite. Our only real choice is between the eternal and the futile. We must decide for ourselves between attempting to master the noise or seeking God in silence; joining in the clamor or listening in prayer.

In the spirit of the Apostles Paul and Luke, I’ve made my choice. “On the Sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer . . . .” (Acts 16:13). What will I find on the banks of the Rio Grande? The eyes of faith look for God in every circumstance. The ears of obedience wait for God’s instruction at all times.

There is a river whose streams make

           glad the city of God,

    the holy habitation of the

           Most High.

                 . . .

Be still, and know that I am God!

   I am exalted among the nations,

   I am exalted in the earth.

             Ps 46:10

At dusk, under the looming escarpment of the Sandia Mountains, the river flows peacefully. It washes my soiled heart with the gladness of God. My soul is lifted and carried on by the current of his presence.

Night has settled in while I’ve waited. Back in the thicket, an owl calls out to its mate that it’s time to hunt. The time has come for me to head home.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who take refuge in him” (Ps 34:8).

Under the mercy of Christ,



Please note that the content and viewpoints of Mr. Hansen are his own and are not necessarily those of the C.S. Lewis Foundation. We have not edited his writing in any substantial way and have permission from him to post his content.


Kent HansenKent Hansen is a Christian attorney, author and speaker. He practices corporate law and is the managing attorney of the firm of Clayson, Mann, Yaeger & Hansen in Corona, California. Kent also serves as the general counsel of Loma Linda University and Medical Center in Loma Linda, California.

Finding God’s grace revealed in the ordinary experiences of life, spiritual renewal in Christ and prayer are Kent’s passions. He has written two books, Grace at 30,000 Feet and Other Unexpected Placespublished by Review & Herald in 2002 and Cleansing Fire, Healing Streams: Experiencing God’s Love Through Prayer, published by Pacific Press in spring 2007. Many of his stories and essays about God’s encompassing love have been published in magazines and journals. Kent is often found on the hiking trails of the southern California mountains, following major league baseball, playing the piano or writing his weekly email devotional, “A Word of Grace for Your Monday” that is read by men and women from Alaska to Zimbabwe.